The Pope Lick Monster is a legendary part-man, part-goat and part-sheep creature reported to live beneath a railroad trestle bridge over Pope Lick Creek, in the Fisherville neighborhood of Louisville, Kentucky.
Numerous urban legends exist about the creature's origins and the methods it employs to claim its victims. According to some accounts, the creature uses either hypnosis or voice mimicry to lure trespassers onto the trestle to meet their death before an oncoming train. Other stories claim the monster jumps down from the trestle onto the roofs of cars passing beneath it. Yet other legends tell that it attacks its victims with a blood-stained axe and that the very sight of the creature is so unsettling that those who see it while walking across the high trestle are driven to leap off.
Other legends hold that the monster is a human-goat hybrid, and that it was a circus freak who vowed revenge after being mistreated. In one version, it is said the monster escaped after a train derailed on the trestle. Another version commonly told by locals of the area claims that the monster is really the twisted reincarnated form of a farmer who sacrificed goats in exchange for Satanic powers.
The legends have turned the area into a site for legend tripping. There have been a number of deaths and accidents at the trestle since its construction, despite the presence of an 8-foot (2.4 m) fence to keep thrill-seekers out.
There is a common misconception that the trestle is abandoned and no longer used; in reality, the bridge carries a major rail artery into Louisville. Heavy freight trains cross the bridge several times daily, so it is easy for someone to get caught atop it while an oncoming train barrels down on them. Norfolk Southern Railway urged citizens not climb the trestle, saying if caught they would be arrested.
This story begins with a man who called himself Colonel Beauregard Schildknecht, although there is no record of evidence that he ever served in any regiment of the armed services or militia. Colonel Schildknecht was the owner and Ringmaster of a traveling circus that performed across the heartland of America and into the Deep South territories beginning in the early 1930's. Schildknecht's reputation was one of ill repute in the carnival business, and he was considered a liar, cheat and all around charlatan. His crew of carnies and circus clowns were more of a gang of cutthroats and pirates than sideshow entertainers, and every town they visited left behind a series of unsolved thefts, missing persons and grizzly accidental deaths.
One thunderously stormy night while stopped in a small town near Beltsville, Maryland, the circus' bearded lady, Madame Bristelles, discovered an abandoned infant left in a hay filled crate outside her tent. The child was severely malformed with stubs protruding from its forehead and misshapen legs that ended in what looked more like cloven hooves than human feet. She took the poor creature in and gave it food and shelter.
One look at the twisted abomination and Colonel Schildknect knew that he had struck gold. He had found the starring attraction for his Freak Show that would make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. He took the child and raised it in captivity, never letting it out of his sight or its cage until it could be fully exploited for its grotesque appearance.
The beast grew in size and strength over the years, its stubs becoming full sized horns and its temperament as nasty as the treatment given to it by the cruel circus carnies charged with keeping it imprisoned. It spent most of its life chained to the wall of a cage inside a circus train, whipped brutally daily to keep it subdued and submissive, and fed only gruel and leftover scraps from the Midway vendor's grease pits.
One fateful night, during a thunderstorm as violent as the one on the night of its birth, the circus train was passing through Fisherville on its way to a performance in Louisville, KY when a bolt of lightning struck the tracks causing the train to derail just ahead of the trestle over Pope Lick Creek. The twisted wreck probably killed most of Schildknecht's crew instantly, but not all of them, since body parts were found as far away as two miles from the crash site.
What is known for a fact is that the Goatman survived the tragic train wreck, finally set free from its life of torture, exploitation and imprisonment, and it took revenge on the survivors by ripping them to bloody shreds. Colonel Schildknecht's body was never found, and it is suspected that a few of his cutthroat crew of clowns, circus freaks and dangerous animals also may have survived the deadly accident, but were never found.
Due to the number of deaths, missing persons, deer & livestock mutilations and Goatman sightings that have been reported in the ensuing years, there is good reason to believe the Goatman of Pope Lick never left the area. He is believed to have taken up residence in either an underground cave or ramshackle hut somewhere in the wooded area near the train trestle. His inbred hate of cruel humanity has made him a bloodthirsty and dangerous beast to be avoided at all costs.
Those that dare trespass into his domain have met their fate at his hands. The Courier Journal records at least two confirmed deaths in 1987 and 1988, and many injuries and close calls, attributed to the Pope Lick Monster and his protected trestle. The trestle rises 90 feet above Pope Lick Creek and stretches 772 feet across to the other side. Although incapable of human speech, the Goatman is said to be able to mimic human voices and has been known to call out the names of those who have climbed to the top of the trestle in order to lure them out onto the tracks just as an oncoming train is coming around the bend to seal their doom.
On weekend nights during the month of October, and especially during the cycle of the Full Moon, the Goatman is said to be most active in the woods and hills surrounding the Pope Lick Trestle. Those who have attempted to drive beneath the trestle at the stroke of midnight have reported being chased by the beast, who can run at speeds of nearly 60 miles per hour, and more than one report has claimed loss of their car door handle or bloody claw prints left on their car door after the pursuit.
In the mid 1970's, rumors of a satanic cult and demonic rituals began circulating in the same area along Pope Lick Road, and reports of missing dogs, cats and other domestic animals were suspected of falling prey to satanic blood ceremonies. A mysterious farm known as The Four Winds down the street a few miles from the train trestle was suspected of being owned by a group of Satanists who worshiped the Pope Lick Monster as the living embodiment of Baphomet, the Goat of Mendes himself, a mocking of the image of the lamb as the embodiment of Christ who died for the sins of humanity. The Four Winds farm was surrounded by a red and black painted fence through the 1980's and into the 1990's with a sign at the front gate warning "Trespassers Will Be Persecuted." Strange tribal drum beats and chanting were often heard in the woods behind the farm's barn.
Another potential danger in the area is the group of angry farmers and residents who constantly suffer in fear of the monster's attacks on their livestock and families. Some of these residents should be considered armed and dangerous and might not take kindly to anything or anyone lurking about the area after dark.
The Legend of the Pope Lick Monster and the haunted railroad trestle it calls home have been passed down through the oral tradition and spread about over three generations of Louisville culture. Is it all myth and urban legend or are some of the stories rooted in truth and local history?